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Is Washington the Big Loser in the Mecca Deal? PDF Print E-mail
Feb 09, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Friday, Feb. 09, 2007 [TIME magazine]

By Elaine Shannon/Washington

Palestinians may still be celebrating the Mecca accord reached between rival factions of Hamas and Fatah to form a national unity government, but there is no such sentiment coming out of Washington. "Peace is not at hand," a senior US official said today. But while the Bush Administration may view the deal as a setback for the prospects of Middle East peace, many observers think it is really a setback for U.S. influence in the region — especially its goal of isolating Hamas.

On its face, the agreement signed in Mecca between Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party and Khaled Meshal of Hamas, falls far short of the principles of the international mediating group known as the Quartet, comprised of the US, United Nations, European Union and Russia, that a unity government must recognize Israel, reject violence and commit itself to the peace process. The Mecca talks, convened by Saudi King Abdullah, resulted in a Hamas pledge to "respect" previous Palestinian agreements to engage in peace talks with Israel. But Hamas leaders pointedly did not embrace Quartet demands that they concede Israel's right to exist and move toward a two-state solution.

And US officials make clear that so long as Hamas doesn't embrace and act on the Quartet's demands, the stalemate will continue. Early this morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with other Quartet representatives — UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, EU security policy chief Javier Solana, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner via secure telephone conference call. In a statement issued later in the day, the group reaffirmed its principles, adopted a wait-and-see stance on the unity government plan and called a Quartet strategy session for Feb. 21 in Berlin.

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Depressed about the situation in the Middle East? You may not be looking in the right places

News from Israel/Palestine

by Peter Larson

Israel has carried out deadly bombing raids over Gaza, killling and wounding many in alleged reprisals for a kidnapping/murder in the West Bank. But what effect is its show of muscle having on Israel's reputation around the world?

Several people have written to me in the last week about how discouraged they are about recent developments in the Middle East.

"How much more pain and suffering can anyone endure?"
"Will it ever change?"

In fact there is lots of reason to be optimistic if you look at what is happening on the world scene.

Read full article: http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=17eaae75f7dfe1659c149b0ef&id=ddde9d1865

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